Maharashtra co-op bank facing scam probe to pay teachers’ salaries

Mumbai city news: From July 1, the Mumbai District Co-operative Bank (MDCB), under the scanner for a Rs123-crore scam, will do it

mumbai Updated: Jun 10, 2017 01:36 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,co-op bank,MDCB
The Union Bank of India used to handle the job from 2011. (HT)

The Maharashtra government has selected a cooperative bank under the scanner for a Rs123-crore scam to disburse salaries of teachers in government-aided and partially aided schools in Mumbai.

The Union Bank of India used to handle the job from 2011. From July 1, the Mumbai District Co-operative Bank (MDCB) will do it.

The government resolution (GR) issued on June 3 said the decision was taken to strengthen the state’s
co-operative movement and because the MDCB had computer software programme comparable to nationalised banks.

What the GR doesn’t state is that the bank is led by BJP MLC and Mumbai unit vice-president, Pravin Darekar, who was booked by Mumbai police in 2015 for having caused loss of Rs123 crore to the bank through embezzlement of funds. Darekar was a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena legislator who crossed over to the BJP soon after the 2014 elections. He is currently facing an inquiry by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in the case. The complaint in this case was filed by another BJP functionary, Vivekanand Gupta.

The bank was also indicted by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) earlier for several irregularities and giving out bad loans. Despite several calls and text messages, Darekar was not available for comment.

So why would the state government entrust the wage bill of its teachers to a bank with such a reputation?

“The decision was taken because of what the MDCB is offering as sops to the teachers, including on home loans. This is not at the risk to the teaching staff but to benefit them. Across the state we use 25 co-operative banks for such wage bill disbursal,” said school education minister Vinod Tawde.

Sources told HT that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was on board while taking this decision and a senior BJP leader hinted that a clean chit from the EOW was on the cards for Darekar. A section within the BJP said Darekar was seen as a good investment by the party when he was inducted to make inroads in the co-operative sector so far controlled by the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). In the last two years, Darekar has managed to survive and has built bridges with senior BJP leaders. For starters, despite a police complaint he got his panel elected to the board of the bank.

“The Mumbai Bank is a strong bank and has lent to several government projects. Its financial parameters are strong so taking such a decision is not illegal. Also, no substance has been found in the complaint by the EOW,’’ said a senior BJP functionary.

However, the decision is likely to get slammed by teachers’ organisations. Kapil Patil, journalist turned politician, who was elected to the Legislative Council from the teachers’ constituency told HT, “This is a purely political decision to shield and give afresh lease of life to the corrupt. There is an FIR filed against the bank director and an inquiry is underway. Why should teachers’ salaries be put at risk ? We will take this up and oppose this decision. We have seen the risks first hand with other banks like the Nagpur co-op bank scam, where teachers lost their savings.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2017 01:36 IST